|Boras would let Beltre baby-sit his kids||01.08.10 at 12:39 pm ET|
Adrian Beltre was introduced as the Red Sox’ newest third baseman Friday morning, joining his agent, Scott Boras, and Sox general manager Theo Epstein in answering questions from the media at Fenway Park.
Here are some things we learned at the get-together:
- Boras clearly thinks highly of Beltre, as a player and a person. The two were first introduced when Beltre was an 18-year-old (more on that later).
“Sometimes you run across people in your career that you think very highly of both skill-wise and as a person, and Adrian for me is one of those people,” said Boras, who hadn’t gotten into Boston until midnight Thursday night after flying straight from St. Louis, where he had the Matt Holliday press conference. “He’s one of those players who I would let baby-sit my children. I have always been completely infatuated with Adrian Beltre as a player.”
- Those in attendance are about to refute Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon’s assertion that Beltre is the best defensive third baseman in the game. (Maddon actually told our man Alex Speier that Beltre was the game’s best defensive player, period.)
- Boras and Beltre were perfectly happy taking the “pillow contract” from the Red Sox. (Such a deal is a one-year deal you can comfortably rest your head on before waking up and moving on, according to the agent.)
“He’s just someone I respect at the highest level. I trust him. When you ‘re out there turning down millions of dollars to come here on a one-year scenario … I did it for a reason,” Boras said. “His family is already taken care of from his prior contract. The other thing is that I just think he’s that good a player. He’s an elite player. He’s one of the best third basemen in the game. I would never advise him to sign a long-term contract unless it’s at a level where elite players get paid.
“When the Red Sox signed a pitcher I knew Adrian had a chance to come here because obviously if they signed a big position player they might have allocated these resources to a pitcher. When they chose to spend their franchise money on a starter I knew we had an ability to come in with a creative approach. We worked through it and created a ‘pillow contract’.”
“It’s true, I had many multi-year offers but I made the decision to come here and take my chances with a team that has a legitimate chance to get to the World Series,” Beltre said. “I’ve been in the big leagues for 11 years and have only been in the playoffs once. I like my chances. I like the organization and I like what’s going on here. I think the team is built to win. It’s a decision I made and I’m really happy about it.”
- Beltre is clearly self-motivated. Coming over from the Dominican Republic as a 15-year-old, the infielder knew very little English but took it upon himself to meet up with a bilingual teammate from Cuba who taught Beltre one word a day. It has paid off as the third baseman is not only fluent in English, but his young his young children (3- and 6-years-old, respectively) also speak both languages. And then there is his work ethic on the field.
“He’s been nothing but discilpined,” Boras said. “This guy in spring training is out there at six o’clock taking 200 ground balls and he’s the best defensive third baseman in the game. He’s that kind of man, he’s that kind of player. Nobody tells Adrian Beltre what to do, he does it all on his own.”
- Beltre’s defense has been largely self-taught. Weighing just 130 pounds as a 15-year-old, the infielder’s power-hitting frame has clearly developed over his time as a professional. His defensive instincts, however, has been in place for sometime. An example of how natural defense has come to Beltre can be found when looking at how he executes fielding slow-rollers, which typically has his left leg high in the air upon throwing the ball to first. Beltre had no idea he possessed such a trademark high leg kick until Boras showed him a picture of the player while the agent was trying to teach his son the art of such a play.
- Epstein feels like Beltre and the Red Sox are a good match, for a few different reasons. (One of which is that he no longer has to play in the expanse of Safeco Field.)
“We think Fenway is a fit for Adrian,” the GM said. “It’s hard to emphasize just how much Safeco deflates offensive performance for right-handed power hitters. It’s really a tough place to hit. Mike Cameron, I know, talked about it when he was in here. It’s a difficult place to put up any kind of numbers, left field, left-center, center field, even if you hit the ball well to the opposite field, it’s hard to get rewarded as a right-handed hitter there. Obviously fenway is a nice place to hit if you can elevate the ball to the pull side. It also doesn’t take away from a nice opposite field stroke. Adrian’s natural stroke sometimes is to the opposite foeld, which is fine. He’ll be rewarded here in the gaps. Pull-side elevation will obviously be rewarded. We think he’ll be a nice fit. Just getting out of Safeco even moreso than getting to Fenway is significant if you look at Adrian’s road performance over the years, it’s very impressive what he’s done outside of Safeco, and even before that, he was in a pitchers park in Dodger Stadium. It will be a nice change for him. And as he said, it’s more than just numbers. It’s a mindset and confidence and it’s effect on the whole ballclub.
“As far as Red Sox fans, those who have stayed up late to watch us play out in seattle have seen Adrian make some great plays against us over the years, and beat us with home runs, one of the inside the park variety which you guys probably all remember. I think Adrian is the type of player you have to see day in and day out to appreciate not just what he does at third base and his ability to win games with the bat in his hand, but also the type of person that he is. His leadership skills and how hard he plays and how passionate he is about the game. I think he’s going to fit in with the Pedroia’s and the Youkilis’ of the world on this club and really help us have the right mindset day in and day out as we grind out what we hope will be our 95 wins and our playoff berth and a chance to win the World Series.”
- Then there is the story of Beltre’s age. It was a well-documented case when it was discovered that Beltre was a year younger than had been initially reported by the Dodgers. This was surfaced at a dinner that included Boras just after the third baseman had been called up as a “20-year-old”. The agent was praising his client for being a rarity — a player who was making his major league debut at the age of 20 when the average for more rookie third basemen was 25. Beltre jumped in and said he didn’t know why everybody was saying he was 20 when he was only 19. That led to further investigation, that revealed that the Dodgers had illegally signed Beltre to a professional contact at the age of 15.
- As for the Red Sox’ incumbent third basemen, Mike Lowell, Epstein said:
“We’ve been in contact with Mike throughout the winter, most recently with his agent a few days ago. I think we’re actually on the same page on this one. For mike, it’s an unfortunate situation. It’s the second straight offseason in which he’s been rehabbing from surgery. His goal and our goal is for him to come to spring training and get back on the field and demonstrate his health and start playing, and playing well. I think this is a situation that will take care of itself. If mike gets out on the field and shows that he’s 100 percent healthy, as we expect him to be a couple of weeks into spring training and starts playing well, there will be an opportunity for him. If it’s here, if other players don’t show up in good health , or elsewhere. He’s going to be a sought-after player. We’ll probably be able to put mike in a situation either here or elsewhere where he can make an impact on a team. If he’s a little bit slower rehabbing or hasn’t quite gotten back to the position where he can play regularly, then I think mike feels like if he’s going to have a complementary type role, he’d rather have it here, better in Boston than anywhere else, the way he feels about the Red Sox and the way we feel about him. I know it might look awkward from the outside but it’s a situation that will probably take care of itself as long as we stay on the same page and we certainly are right now.”
For more on Beltre …
- Players of the Week, May 13-19: Mookie Betts and Matt Price
- Cup of Coffee: Montas strikes out eight in Greenville loss
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #34
- ESPNBoston: De La Rosa finding his way in Pawtucket
- Cup of Coffee: Bradley, Holt shine in PawSox loss
- Xander Bogaerts, Portland to headline Futures at Fenway
- SoxProspects Video of the Week: Matt Barnes
- Cup of Coffee: Henry, Diaz propel Pawtucket to blowout victory
- Cup of Coffee: Spring's walk-off grand slam lifts Portland
- Bradley: "Everything's back to normal"